Rack Codes & StandardsRack Design & Installation

Building Codes And Their Importance To Rack Design

In spite of being a standalone structure, the safety of an industrial steel storage rack’s design and installation is nearly always vetted by one or more local jurisdictions — including state, county, or local municipality. The reason? The International Code Council’s International Building Code (IBC) is the base code standard by the majority of governing bodies in the U.S. The IBC references RMI’s ANSI MH16.1: Specification for the Design, Testing and Utilization of Industrial Steel Storage Racks (in section 2209.1) as the standard for safe design and installation of steel storage racks.

The IBC includes industrial steel storage rack within its standards because the safe design, manufacture and installation of such structures depends on building-specific factors. These include flooring, soil classifications, anchoring, load type to be stored, handling equipment, and more. If the racking is located in an area with any potential for earthquakes, seismic requirements are also considered.

A building official will use the IBC and RMI standards to confirm that all code mandates are met through a review of the rack’s load application and rack configuration (LARC) drawings and documentation before issuing a building permit when one is required. Further, a certificate of occupancy is issued only after the rack installation is finished and inspected. For these reasons, RMI recommends a facility owner contact the local building and planning department for guidance on how to ensure their installation is in compliance with codes prior to purchasing a rack structure.

It should also be noted that fire safety requirements must also be considered during the rack design planning process. Frequently, fire protection requirements significantly impact the system’s design, as well as what can be stored in it. A permit and inspection to verify that a facility’s sprinkler system and racking are properly designed and will work together effectively is also likely be required, as mandated by the NFPA 13 design standard for sprinkler system installation and the International Code Council (ICC) International Fire Code (IFC) regulations.

Looking for additional information on the impact of building codes on rack design and installation? RMI’s publication “Considerations for the Planning and Use of Industrial Steel Storage Racks” offers more detail in Chapter 1, “Storage Rack References and Information Sources.”